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Tens of thousands have fled Haiti's capital in the last three weeks, UN says

MORE than 53,000 people have fled Haiti’s capital in less than three weeks, the vast majority to escape unrelenting gang violence, according to a United Nations report released on Tuesday.

More than 60 per cent are headed to Haiti’s rural southern region, which worries UN officials.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “Our humanitarian colleagues emphasised that these departments do not have sufficient infrastructure and host communities do not have sufficient resources to cope with the large number of people fleeing Port-au-Prince.”

The southern region already hosts more than 116,000 Haitians who previously left Port-au-Prince, according to the report by the UN’s International Organisation for Migration.

The exodus from the capital of some 3 million people began shortly after powerful gangs launched a series of attacks on government institutions at the end of February. 

Gunmen have burned police stations, opened fire on the main international airport that remains closed and stormed Haiti’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.

More than 1,500 people have been killed up to March 22 and another 17,000 have been left homeless, according to the UN.

Among the travellers trying to head north instead of south from the capital was street vendor Marjorie Michelle-Jean and her two young children.

She said: “I want to see them alive,” explaining that stray bullets keep hitting the tin roof of their home.

Last week, they tried twice to travel to her home town of Mirebalais in central Haiti but were forced to turn back because of roadblocks.

“I will definitely try again,” she said. “It’s absolutely not safe in Port-au-Prince.”

The violence forced unelected Prime Minister Ariel Henry to announce last month that he would resign once a transitional presidential council is created. 

The transitional council, which will be responsible for choosing a new prime minister and council of ministers, has yet to be formally established.


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